Digital Humanities Project Evaluation

Voyages: The Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Quantitative Method: Bibliometrics

In WorldCat, Voyages is considered a “Website: Document: Updating website”. It is further classified as a “Computer File” and a “Continually Updated Resource: English”. 48 libraries hold this format, which compares to 337 who hold the format “Computer file: CD for computer: Document: English”; the static version of this information, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-ROM, was published by David Eltis, Stephen D Behrendt, David Richardson, and Herbert S Klein in 1999 by Cambridge University Press. David Eltis collaborated with Martin Halbert, noted as “principle investigators”, to publish the internet resource in 2000. All five major contributors are included in the citation formats provided:

Eltis, David, Martin Halbert, Stephen D. Behrendt, David Richardson, and Herbert S. Klein. Voyages The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. [Atlanta]: Emory University, 2000. <http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces>. [Turabian, 6th ed.]

 Google Scholar shows that “voyages: the trans-Atlantic slave trade database”, has 8 direct citations used in the following publications (green indicates continuing levels of exponential citation):

Figure 1 Citation Tree Analysis

This shows that the Gareth Austin article, “The ‘reversal of Fortune’ Thesis and the Compression of History: Perspectives from African and Comparative Economic History” published in the Journal of International Development : Policy, Economics and International Relations in 2008 has had the most scholarly impact that can be traced from this resource thus far. A network analysis of the impact of this article (green circle) shows the power of the Voyages database.

Figure 2 – Citation Network Analysis


Qualitative Method: Print Book

Addressing the humanities field’s print expectations, in 2008 David Eltis and David Richardson published Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. Creating this cements the online resource’s value, and gives scholars examples of how they can use the database for their research. Prior to this work, Eltis published several articles and books using the database as a primary source, but Extending the Frontiers is an important deliverable in the world of scholarly communication because the aggregation of work done by scholars using the database and reviewing it publicly amounts to peer review. Reviewing this text, Harvard professor and director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research Henry Louis Gates states, “Together with the new slave trade database, this project has done more to reverse the Middle Passage than any other single act of scholarship possibly could. It is a scholarly miracle.”

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